Benefit From The Floodwater
There is a line in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar related to the flood tide. It occurred when Brutus was speaking to Cassius, encouraging him to take action.
Julius Caesar Act-IV Scene-III
There is a tide in the affairs of men. Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.
Failing To Ride On The Crest
There is an example in Scripture of what so many do today when they begin to consider their spiritual condition.
But some days later Felix arrived with Drusilla, his wife who was a Jewess, and sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. But as he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said, “Go away for the present, and when I find time I will summon you.”
Sailing At High Tide
At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus dwelt in Capernaum. His first disciples immediately followed Him and experienced the flood of His initial impact on the world.
From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
Our Will or His Will
The biggest obstacle that we face today is the same as that which existed in the time of Felix. We must be ready to do God’s will.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” You don’t even know what tomorrow will bring — what your life will be! For you are like smoke that appears for a little while, then vanishes. Instead, you should say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So it is a sin for the person who knows to do what is good and doesn’t do it.
Truth Will Set You Free
We all want to have the truth told to us. Truthfulness is essential in our everyday lives, but it is critical in our spiritual lives.
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
We usually do what we want to do, especially things that we much desire. If you strongly desire to be a Christian, you will be.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Finding The Truth
Jesus gave these instructions to the apostle Paul demonstrating that the truth of God’s word takes us from darkness into light.
But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.
The Powerful Word of God
Recognizing, believing, and obeying the word of God has the power to lead us to the truth.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
The Problem With Opinions
Throughout history, quarrels over various teachings have abounded. Often quarreling is caused by intentional false teachings of what God desires from us. Another cause is the ignorance of those who are teaching their speculations as fact.
2 Timothy 2:23
But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.
Reference Material Guidelines
In today’s world, there are multitudes of commentaries and study Bibles that are available. Knowing the motivations of their authors is very important. A reference that has accuracy as it’s objective is essential. Take the time to study the Word of God with as many reference sources as possible. Thoroughly evaluating text translations will expose distortions by a reference to accommodate a specific belief.
See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;
Wisdom Of God Before Wisdom Of Men
A sincere seeker of the desires of God will approach each study with humility. This approach is the most significant sign of a wise person. Many are knowledgeable in the Scriptures, but God is the ultimate source of wisdom. No human can compare with God.
1 Corinthians 3:18–20
Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, “He is the one who catches the wise in their craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are useless.”
Getting Our Answers
Our objective is to understand and know God to the best of our ability.
Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord.
Conflicting Messages Are Very Confusing
People argue that an unborn child is not a living being. They condone aborting the fetus if the woman so chooses. These same people call for a charge of murder on two counts upon the slaying of a pregnant woman. How can these conflicting logical results be justified? In many areas today, we find lifestyles and behaviors condemned in God’s word. Those same beliefs and actions are justified and even promoted out of human desire. Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy gave excellent advice to the church of the Thessalonians—think about everything that people tell you before you take any direction. Then take the way of good, not evil.
1 Thessalonians 5:21–22
But examine all things; hold fast to what is good. Stay away from every form of evil.
Choosing A Direction
The smartest decision that one could take would be to follow the directions of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
Being Untruthful On Good And Evil Is Unwise
There are profound consequences for advocating and choosing the wrong direction.
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the Lord.
A Choice To Submit To God
We can benefit significantly from the teachings of Jesus. That is also true of the teachings of James who identifies himself in the first verse of his book as a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
It’s All Around Us
Paul saw much of these behaviors and responded to them in a way that can benefit us all. In his letter to Timothy, Paul gave inspired wisdom that cannot fail when applied in our lives.
2 Timothy 2:23–26
Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
Gentleness Is The Key
Jesus showed gentleness and His apostles taught us of His ways.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Share God’s Love With Gentleness
Even in sharing the message of the blessings offered by Christ’s blood, the highest of all endeavors, we must keep this in mind.
1 Peter 3:13–17
Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil.
Walk In A Christian Manner
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Belief Was Taught By Jesus
Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.
The Eternal Consequences of Belief or Disbelief
1 John 5:10–11
The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son. And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.
Acceptance and obedience can show true belief in God. We accept and obey all that is asked of us by God, not just our desires.
He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.
1 John 5:3
For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.
God’s True Word
Often used to describe someone’s evil misconduct, we have many examples in Scripture. The serpent, playing the devil, condemned us to our suffering today in the garden of Eden. God made it clear what He expected from Adam and Eve.
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
The Devil’s Word
Revelation 12:9 defines who was playing the devil. It reads —that ancient serpent, called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world. The serpent, with no mixing of words, called God a liar.
But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.”
Deception Still Exists
Just as then, those playing the devil today contradict God’s clear commandments to us. We were warned of these actions by Jesus. The apostle Paul also warned the church at Corinth of these same deceptions.
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.
2 Corinthians 11:3
But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
Cling To God’s Word
God’s Word came to us through Jesus Christ and His apostles. It is the precise instruction of God. There is no other.
2 Timothy 3:12–17
Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
At some time we may have exited at the wrong Interstate offramp on a trip. Occasionally we make decisions that we find out later were not very wise. Unfortunately, we don’t have the option of pressing the undo button to wipe out the decision and all of its complications to go in a different direction.
Another complication is that we tend to relive bad decisions and their results over and over. The church at Rome was shown to be ashamed of past decisions by the apostle Paul.
For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.
When we look back at the decisions that have had an impact on our spiritual lives, we can find comfort in the fact that we are today provided with a merciful means to deal with those issues.
Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out…
Erased By Jesus' Blood
It’s an awesome thought to remember what Jesus did to provide the means whereby our sins can be blotted out—His death on the cross.
…for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Apply God’s Power
The word of God is so important to us. Through the Word, we have perfect wisdom for dealing with the past, present, and future.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
2 Peter 1:3–4
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
Thinking From The Other Extreme
Jesus provided the greatest example of the proper attitude toward erring people—which refers to all people.
1 John 3:16a
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us…
It’s Easy When They Are Your Loved Ones
The apostle John speaks of a love that exists between Christian brothers and sisters in Christ.
1 John 4:7–8
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
A Greater Love
Jesus made the purpose of His mission clear to the Pharisee, Nicodemus.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Our New View Of The Reprobates
Jesus’ whole purpose was for those “reprobates”. These are His words to us describing how precious erring souls are to Him!
I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
A Godly Approach
The apostle Peter gave a clear approach to handling offenders. We are to ask blessings on them! He refers to God’s message from David in Psalms 34:12–16.
1 Peter 3:9–12
Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
Even With Words
Also, we are not to not speak poorly of those who offend us. The apostle James described this concept as he taught Christians how to be a living example of only one fruit—good fruit. This was also taught by the apostle Paul to the church in Ephesus.
but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
Love Your Enemies
Loving people who are good to us is easy. However, the road gets harder when we are called on to love and pray for those who hate us. Jesus spoke of this and the reward for loving our enemies in the end of Matthew Chapter 5 and beginning of Matthew Chapter 6.
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?
To Be A Child Of God
Jesus wants us to be children of our Father who is in heaven. Let us only produce what a child of God would produce. Let us exist only to build up and set aside bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander.
I’ll Do It Later
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
Let Me Think About It
Paul gives an example of someone who has too much to do—or someone who doesn’t consider the fact that tomorrow may never come. Paul was sent to Felix who held the official Roman title of procurator or governor. Paul was on trial before Felix for speaking of the resurrection of the dead.
But Felix, having a rather accurate knowledge of the Way, put them off, saying, “When Lysias the tribune comes down, I will decide your case.” Then he gave orders to the centurion that he should be kept in custody but have some liberty, and that none of his friends should be prevented from attending to his needs. After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.”
Did He Wait Too Long?
We don’t know the outcome for Felix. It appears he did have the opportunity for at least the next two years.
When two years had elapsed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison.
Flavius Josephus in Antiquities of the Jews wrote—
The principal of the Jewish inhabitants of Cesarea went up to Rome to accuse Felix; and he had certainly been brought to punishment, unless Nero had yielded to the importunate solicitations of his brother Pallas.
Other than this reference to Felix being in Rome, there is no other record on his preparation for the coming judgment, in the Bible or any of the other ancient writings.
We Have The Opportunity Today!
How blessed we are for God’s patience up until this moment in time.
2 Peter 3:8–10
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
Today Is The Day
We, also, have heard the message of salvation through Christ. Today is the day to take action and not wait for the message to be repeated again tomorrow. Tomorrow may never come!
And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. ”
How Does This Work?
We have a perfect example of how observing this instruction can affect our lives—in Scripture. It involves two followers of Jesus after His death and the supernatural opportunity that they had to walk with Him.
That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
Then we read of their remembrance of Jesus through what they had heard of Him.
So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.
Remembering Our Faith
It is in this same way that we are grounded in our faith by this observance—this remembrance.
And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Remembering His Death
It is with reverence and joy that we have this weekly opportunity to remember Jesus and how blessed we are for His sacrifice. As the apostle Paul demonstrated—
On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread…
1 Corinthians 11:26
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
The Rich Man And Lazarus
In the Gospel of Luke, we have a story of two people. One is an unnamed rich man. The other, the only person specifically named in Jesus’ parables—the poor man Lazarus. ( Chapter 16:19–30 ESV)
The story begins with their death.
There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. (ESV)
No Relief For The Rich Man
It was only at this time that the rich man realized what he would never have again.
And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ (ESV)
His Unselfish Plea
And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house—for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’
Heed The Warnings
But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’ (ESV)
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (ESV)
And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” (ESV)
Paul Suffered So Many Trials
The apostle Paul endured times of great distress. He was persecuted in so many ways, beaten, and imprisoned. All the while he witnessed many of the same behaviors we see today. Like us, Paul also worried over the actions taking place in churches.
Paul Needed A Reason To Rejoice
2 Corinthians 11:24–28
Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. (ESV)
For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. (ESV)
Christ Is Proclaimed In Unusual Ways
Even as a prisoner, Paul was able to make many aware of the joy that he obtained in his continued service and devotion to Christ. In the same remarkable way, those who pretend to serve God can cause people to turn to Christ. When false teachings deviate too far from the Word, many begin to seek the true Biblical teachings of how we are to serve God. They decide to have devotion to Christ—not devotion to men.
Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
The Greatest Gain Of All
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (ESV)
Jesus And Our Examples
1 Corinthians 11:1
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. (ESV)
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved. (ESV)
Let God Be The Judge
God’s Word assures us that we do not need to use our time in matters concerning the behavior of others.
The Cure For Being Judgemental
Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (NASB)
Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor? (NASB)
Focus On These Instead
Are we ever to be judgmental of the behavior of others? Continuing the thoughts of the apostle Paul from last week’s article, we are are shown where to use judgment and where we are to focus our attention.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (NASB)
Please God With Our Lifestyle
2 Corinthians 5:6–10
Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord—for we walk by faith, not by sight— we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. (NASB)
God Is In Control
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (NASB)
As with all other aspects of life, handling disappointments can be best accomplished with the help of God and His Word.
Peace Through Faith
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (NASB)
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Strength Through Faith
What can God give to us when we become weary or tired? How about when we lack might and feel powerless? What about those occasions when we stumble badly?
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, And to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary. (NASB)
God’s Message of Promise
In the book of Jeremiah, God gave a message to all that He had sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. It is a message that we can consider today in our approach to life’s disappointments.
For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile. (NASB)
See Spot Run!
In the last half of the 20th century, many learned to read in the same way. First, learning the sound of the letters of the alphabet. Then, application by sounding out words.
Growing In Knowledge
By patiently taking the same approach to the study of God’s word, a continually growing understanding will come.
For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles—assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God's grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. (ESV)
Life And Godliness
We get a great deal of joy when we understand the messages found in a classic novel. Far greater joy and unimaginable rewards can be realized through the understanding of the Word of God.
2 Peter 1:3–4
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. (ESV)
The Church Of Christ
No one needs to be alone in their study. The assembly provides everyone with an excellent means to make study more effective. God’s wisdom shows us that there is no better way to aid our individual study than to study with those who are knowledgeable—those who are continuing in their pursuit of a greater understanding of God’s Word.
So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. (ESV)
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! (ESV)
Jesus' Last Hours
Often as we travel through life, we face times when the morrow doesn’t seem bright. Jesus had times like these, possibly the most notable is His last few hours with His disciples.
Jesus was well aware of the events that were beginning to unfold. He spoke clearly and frankly to His disciples of His betrayal and His death.
On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was being sacrificed, His disciples *said to Him, “Where do You want us to go and prepare for You to eat the Passover?” And He *sent two of His disciples and *said to them, “Go into the city, and a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him; and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is My guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”’ And he himself will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; prepare for us there.” The disciples went out and came to the city, and found it just as He had told them; and they prepared the Passover. When it was evening He *came with the twelve. As they were reclining at the table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me—one who is eating with Me.” They began to be grieved and to say to Him one by one, “Surely not I?” And He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who dips with Me in the bowl. For the Son of Man is to go just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” While they were eating, He took some bread, and after a blessing He broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is My body.” And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. And He said to them, “This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly I say to you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. (NASB)
Something To Sing About
Even with the horrors that lay ahead, Jesus had a reason to sing—and so do we. Whatever the events may be that come our way in this life, we can sing praises to our merciful God and the redemption He has provided to us through His only Son.
Even Paul and Silas
Paul and Silas endured severe treatment. But, they approached their circumstance in the most effective way possible—praying and singing hymns to God. What a wonderful way to break from the chains of this world.
The crowd rose up together against them, and the chief magistrates tore their robes off them and proceeded to order them to be beaten with rods. When they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely; and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. (NASB)
The Problem With Regrets
Dwelling on the past is not only a significant waste of time, it can be seriously destructive. It is a waste of time simply because nothing can be changed in the past—no matter how much we wish that we could. To dwell on past mistakes can cause serious health problems—not only mentally but also physically.
Paul had a simple way to address the thoughts of past losses. Forget them! Focus on the future and there will be no time for thinking of the past.
But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, so that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ — the righteousness from God based on faith. My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead. Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. (HCSB)
The Promised Prize
Yes, the time will come when all problems of the past will seem so insignificant. Like Paul, press on—pursue the goal.
Nothing New Here
Even in Old Testament times people were told of God’s wisdom in dealing with the spent days of old. So look up—and move on into the future with a new hope.
This is what the Lord says — who makes a way in the sea, and a path through surging waters, who brings out the chariot and horse, the army and the mighty one together (they lie down, they do not rise again; they are extinguished, quenched like a wick) — Do not remember the past events, pay no attention to things of old. (HCSB)
The Question of When
On the Mount of Olives, the disciples asked Jesus, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
Jesus was very clear in his answer.
But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (ESV)
No One Knows
Many of us have experienced unexpected events in our lifetime—things we would never have expected. In contrast, we expect Christ’s return. We just don’t know when it will be. The exact time of Christ’s return is known only to the Father. It will take place in a surprising manner and will be a joyous occasion for some and one of incredible terror for others.
The church in Philadelphia was given instructions that are applicable to all today.
Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. (ESV)
Be Patient and Hold Fast
Daylight follows the darkest night. The beauty of spring follows even the worst of winters. There is no surprise with these things. Be prepared and the time of Christ’s return will be welcomed—no surprises.
Paul’s Simple Outline
Let’s take a look at what Paul wrote to the saints at Colossae.
Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.
Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him— a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. (NET)
In verse 5, we are encouraged to put to death whatever in your nature belongs to the earth. In verse 9, we are reminded that, having done so, we have put off the old man with its practices and have been clothed with the new man that is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of the one who created it.
How To Dress
In verses 12–17 Paul gives God’s simple plan, and it’s not hard at all.
Clothe yourselves with a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another.
Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also forgive others.
And to all these virtues add love, which is the perfect bond.
Let the peace of Christ be in control in your heart (for you were in fact called as one body to this peace).
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and exhorting one another with all wisdom, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, all with grace in your hearts to God.
The Final Thought
Then his final instruction which sums up the proper focus for our life—
And whatever you do in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
It is good to give thanks to the Lord And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning And Your faithfulness by night, With the ten-stringed lute and with the harp, With resounding music upon the lyre. For You, O Lord, have made me glad by what You have done, I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands. How great are Your works, O Lord! Your thoughts are very deep. A senseless man has no knowledge, Nor does a stupid man understand this: That when the wicked sprouted up like grass And all who did iniquity flourished, It was only that they might be destroyed forevermore. But You, O Lord, are on high forever. For, behold, Your enemies, O Lord, For, behold, Your enemies will perish; All who do iniquity will be scattered. But You have exalted my horn like that of the wild ox; I have been anointed with fresh oil. And my eye has looked exultantly upon my foes, My ears hear of the evildoers who rise up against me. The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Planted in the house of the Lord, They will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still yield fruit in old age; They shall be full of sap and very green, To declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. (NASB)
What Fruit Can I Yield?
There is a great need waiting to be filled in the world today. We often are appalled at the “idols” of today. While the young are constantly exposed to the degrading ways of the world, so many young people have never heard the glorious words found in the Scriptures—including the following psalm. Many who are advanced in years do not share the knowledge and the blessings available from God. We find encouragement in expressions such as the following.
1 Timothy 5:17
The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.
Rescue me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked, Out of the grasp of the wrongdoer and ruthless man, For You are my hope; O Lord God, You are my confidence from my youth. By You I have been sustained from my birth; You are He who took me from my mother’s womb; My praise is continually of You. I have become a marvel to many, For You are my strong refuge. My mouth is filled with Your praise And with Your glory all day long. Do not cast me off in the time of old age; Do not forsake me when my strength fails.
O God, You have taught me from my youth, And I still declare Your wondrous deeds. And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to all who are to come.
Imagine The Possibilities
In a recent article, Daniel Roberts M.D., Medical editor at the Mayo Clinic Health Letter, shared the following facts. Astronaut John Glenn returned to space at age 77. Julia Child had her TV debut at age 51 and wrote a cookbook at age 87. Frank Lloyd Wright was still working at age 91. Ronald Reagan was elected to his second term at age 73. Dr. William Worrall Mayo founded Mayo Clinic at age 70. Recently, Robert Merchand set a new world record for his age group by bicycling nearly 17 miles in one hour. Mr. Marchand is 102 years old.
The Great Reward
We must have a different perspective on why we must continue to work and the type of work we are to do. Our work is so different from that which the world in general performs.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
Keep On Doing Good
So as we begin this new year, let us keep in mind all that God has given us and gladly do all that we can to spread the Good News of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.